...and culatello. So Upper Saxony went a little crazy late spring to celebrate the bicentennial birth year of its hometown hero, Richard Wagner, with concerts and conferences luring Wagner-fetishists to Dresden and Leipzig. Now it's Emilia-Romagna's turn for the Giuseppe Verdi war-shippers. In the autumn run-up to the Busseto-born maestro's 200th birthday on October 10, the rustic cities that dot the Northern Italian region (crowned by capital Bologna) bow month-long festivities devoted to its native son.
Monday night, Teatro Regio di Parma inaugurates the 2013 Festival Verdi, a month-long playbill of concerts and roundtables of Verdi music and protagonists. Away-team Filarmonica della Scala will sway under Riccardo Chailly in Verdi symphonic treats such as Oberto, Un giorno di regno, Jérusalem and I Vespri siciliani. This year, special guests include Carlo Bergonzi, Mirella Freni, Raina Kabaivanska, Bruno Bartoletti [ed: event scheduled for 31 October will be memories of the late maestro by Gian Paolo Minardi], Leo Nucci and Fiorenza Cossotto. Operas include Boccanegra, Falstaff and I masnadieri.
The opera house, with Verdi snobs so fierce that they could make La Scala's loggionisti cry, christens its new intendant Carlo Fontana on October 1, elected to re-haul the theater's structure/funds under the current economic crisis arts/culture crunch, whose experience runs deep & thorny as GM at La Scala from 1990 - 2005, dismissed by the board over #words with then-MD, Riccardo Muti.
We arrived a night early since we were impatient for the Emilia-Romagna early fall harvest (and its awesomely-titled wine harvest, vendemmia) -- ticklish Malvasia and Lambrusco local bubbly wines, hand-made eggy-pasta blistering with sweet pumpkin filling and crumbly-tart Parmigiano Reggiano. And Verdi's favorites -- culatello and spalla cotta -- served up in downtown Tratoria Corrieri. The well-loved 213-year-old restaurant was bumping on a Sunday night. Tomorrow we'll revisit Verdi's old haunts, hopefully walking-off some of that buttery tortelli di zucca that we polished-off.
Open kitchen at Trattoria Corrieri (Giuseppe Verdi bust in the foreground)
There was an aperitif called Otellon'ice: black Lambrusco spumante wtih ice. (Get it?)
Parma's downtown stores decorate windows in a Festival Verdi theme.